Excessive proliferation of vascular smooth muscle cells (VSMCs) contributes to vessel renarrowing after angioplasty. Here we investigated the transcriptional regulation of the cyclin A gene, a key positive regulator of S phase that is induced after angioplasty. We show that Ras-dependent mitogenic signaling is essential for the normal stimulation of cyclin A promoter activity and DNA synthesis in VSMCs. Overexpression of the AP-1 transcription factor c-fos can circumvent this requirement via interaction with the cAMP-responsive element (CRE) in the cyclin A promoter. Moreover, c-fos overexpression in serum-starved VSMCs results in the induction of cyclin A promoter activity in a CRE-dependent manner, and increased binding of endogenous c-fos protein to the cyclin A CRE precedes the onset of DNA replication in VSMCs induced by serum in vitro and by angioplasty in vivo. We also show that E2F function is essential for both serum- and c-fos-dependent induction of cyclin A expression. Taken together, these findings suggest that c-fos and E2F are important components of the signaling cascade that link Ras activity to cyclin A transcription in VSMCs. These studies illustrate a novel link between the transcriptional and cell cycle machinery that may be relevant to the pathogenesis of vascular proliferative disorders.
A M Sylvester, D Chen, K Krasinski, V Andrés